"Hispanics for Allen" Rally: A Few White People and a Mariachi Band. #FAIL

Saturday, September 29, 2012

My god, not again; does George Allen never learn? Six years ago, Allen held his absurd"Ethnic Rally", at which he was "trying desperately to demonstrate that he has some level of support among nonwhite Virginians," but failing miserably (watch the video and "it's pretty clear that there aren't very many people there, and more than half of them are white" - including a contingent of George Washington University College Republicans). Anyway, if nothing else, we all had fun mocking Allen for that one.This time around, the Allen people apparently think (click to "embiggen") that a "Hispanics for Allen" event attended mostly by a handful of white people, plus a mariachi band (!!!), counts as a success in terms of Latino outreach. Or something. I mean, THEY put the photo up (they "built that?" lol) like it was a big success or something? Huh?!?
Who knows? After all, this IS the guy who told an Asian American "welcome to America," and who argued that there was a "real Virginian" outside the apparently fake (?) Virginia of ethnically diverse NOVA, Richmond, and Hampton Roads. So what else would we expect but a few white people and a mariachi band at a "Hispanics for Allen" event? How about #FAIL?

Video: Barack Obama Speaks in Virginia Beach

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Great stuff from President Obama as always; that pretty much goes without saying. Also see the transcript of Jim Webb's intro, in which he strongly endorses Obama for reelection, talks about the "American Trifecta -- opportunity, fairness, and security," and explains why "[t]his is not the time to turn over the helm of the ship of state to someone whose views on foreign policy seem awkward and uninformed, whose economic policies favor those who are already advantaged, and who does not seem to understand that many of those who need government assistance today want to live the American dream just as much as those who have already made it." I do believe that Jim Webb was referring to one Willard "Mitt" Romney, aka "Thurston Romney III," right there. :)

Koch Collective Warns Virginia Republicans to Stop Thinking for Themselves

by: TheGreenMiles

Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 17:09:31 PM EDT

LokutusRemember how Virginia House Republicans took a pass on signing that Tea Party anti-wind energy letter to House Speaker John Boehner this week? Well, the Koch-founded Americans for Prosperity has taken notice. The group's Virginia office is telling Virginia House Republicans to pick a side: Are you with Virginia's emerging wind energy industry, or are you with the Koch collective?
It's time for government to stop meddling in America's energy markets. New energy technologies should show their value in the marketplace by competing for consumers' dollars on a level playing field-not by petitioning Washington for favors. Over 72,000 Americans for Prosperity activists call the Virginia home, and they will be watching to see how you vote on this issue. I urge you and your colleagues to oppose extending the wind production tax credit.Sincerely,
Audrey Jackson, Virginia State Director, Americans for Prosperity
Note that AFP's "level playing field" rhetoric doesn't stop it from opposing efforts to end huge taxpayer subsidies for massively-profitable oil companiesAFP, much like the Tea Party movement its Koch dollars have ginned up, is a fiscal fraud.So which will it be, Reps. Cantor, Forbes, Goodlatte, Griffith, Hurt, Rigell, Wittman, and Wolf? Will they take a stand for Virginia clean energy jobs? Or get in line behind their Koch overlords? My guess is they collapse by the end of the week. After all, resistance is futile.

Racist, Offensive Mecklenburg, VA Republican Committee Photos Show What We're Fighting Against

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Mecklenburg County Republican Party of Virginia has disgraced itself (on its Facebook page), but at the same time it's also clearly demonstrated what today's John Birch Society, aka "Republican Party," is all about (note: also recall the recent mock lynching of "Nobama" in Centreville). It also reminds us, as clear as can be, what we're fighting against this election (and in general against this version of the Teapublican Party): unabashed racism, extremism, anger, hatred, intolerance, Islamophobia, insanity, and ignorance. Check out a sampling of photos they find amusing, and which really say it all. Oh, and don't forget: VOTE ON NOVEMBER 6 for EVERY DEMOCRAT on the ballot!P.S. The Republican Party of Virginia has ordered that these offensive photos be taken down, but I'd point out a couple things: 1) they were up there for a while, nobody noticed or found them offensive until now?!?; and 2) as of this morning, they're still up...
P.P.S. As someone in the Daily Kos comments section asked, where are the images of Republicans' good ideas? Uhhh...apparently, they don't have any, just bigotry, ignorance, etc. What happened to this once-great party? It's really, really tragic.
UPDATE: Forgot to mention, GREAT work by Progress Virginia in uncovering these images and shining a light on them!

Virginia Republicans Skip Tea Party Attack on Clean Energy

Wind FarmingThis week, 47 House Republicans sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner asking him to let key federal incentives for wind energy expire. The list of sign-ons range from swing seat Republicans desperate to fire up the Tea Party base (Maryland's Andy Harris) to genuine wackos (Texas' Louie Gohmert). But what's most notable is how many Republicans refused to sign the letter - 194 House Republicans refused to sign on. Not one Virginia Republican joined the clean energy attack:
Although GOP districts hold 81 percent of the nation's wind power capacity, Republicans are deeply split on investing in wind (Mitt Romney, for example, drew criticism from fellow Republicans for opposing the PTC). Boehner's home state supports up to 6,000 wind jobs.The GOP remains less divided on issues favoring Big Oil. Of the 47 Republicans asking Boehner to end the wind investments, 46 voted in March 2011 against closing tax loopholes that let Big Oil collect $4 billion in annual subsidies. The one outlier, GOP Rep. Richard Hanna, was a no-vote that day. According to OpenSecrets, these representatives have received a total $2.2 million from the oil and gas industry, in an election cycle where Republicans have collected 89 percent of the oil industry's contributions. Republicans have maintained these tax breaks are "essential" to an industry posting record-breaking profits.
According to the Tea Party, $5 billion a year to back hundreds of thousands of jobs harvesting clean, domestically-produced wind energy? Unaffordable! The billions we shovel to already-massively-profitable oil companies even though the top 5 oil companies alone banked $137 billion in profit just last year? Indispensable!It's just more proof the Tea Party is a fraud. They don't care about fiscal responsibility or keeping the boot of big government off the little guy's neck - they care about whatever their billionaire corporate funders tell them to care about.

Empty Suit Robert Hurt, Devoid of Any Serious Response, Again Attacks Honorable Veteran's Character

Does anything scream "empty suit devoid of any ideas or answers to legitimate questions" than this?
Rep. Robert Hurt predicted Wednesday that he will win re-election and questioned the "character" of Democratic challenger John Douglass due to his efforts to inject the uranium-mining debate into the congressional race for the 5th District."The things that he is saying are untrue. I think that the things that he is saying about me and my interest in this reflect his character," Hurt, R-Chatham, said in an interview when asked about Douglass's attempts to tie him to a uranium project in Southside Virginia. "And I don't think that the people of the 5th District deserve to have a person of that sort of character representing them. And I predict that they won't."
Just a few points on this drivel.1. Going ad hominem is not a substitute for making a serious argument or answering serious questions about your (highly sketchy) behavior. Actually, going ad hominem is a red herring logical fallacy, "attacking the arguer instead of the argument." As such, it is an "error in logic... intended to replace the lack of real arguments." In other words, nice try, but no cigar - not even close - for Congressman Empty Suit. Just as it was a big-time #FAIL when your Rush Limbaugh Wannabe shock jock/attack dogdid the same thing back in August. Sensing a pattern here? Hmmmmm.
2. Just for Hurt's information, Brigadier General John Douglass has more accomplishments in his little finger than Hurt has in his entire body. That includesservice on the U.S. National Security Council "as director of defense programs... responsible for [President Reagan's] strategic modernization program." On the other hand, Hurt has...well...uh...been a career politician who, since 2011, has voted in lockstep with Eric Can'tor, John Boehner, and the rest of the Most Unpopular (and Most Useless) House of Representatives in American History. Impressive, huh? Not.
3. As for the uranium issue, Hurt's attack on John Douglass for supposedly injecting the issue into the campaign is laughably wrong. In reality, many people have raised this issue over the years, including Tom Perriello in 2010, the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club and others. The reason the issue hasn't gone away, nor is it likely to do so in the foreseeable future, is that Hurt hasn't provided any serious answers to peoples' (100% legitimate) questions about his family's financial stake in Virginia uranium mining. Of course, Hurt can't answer that question honestly, at least if he hopes to get reelected. Instead, he goes for the first refuge of scoundrels everywhere: attacking the character of anyone who raises the uncomfortable issue. Think about it: if Hurt didn't have anything to hide on this, why would he need to resort to ad hominem attacks, let alone on an honorable man, patriot and veteran like John Douglass? Fascinating.
The bottom line: Hurt is attacking John Douglass because (pick one or more of the following): a) Hurt's an empty suit and has nothing of substance to say; b) Hurt's rattled; and c) Hurt needs to do SOMETHING to cover up for his highly suspicious, yet unanswered, financial ties to uranium mining interests. Add up a+b+c and what do you get? One big fat #FAIL for Congressman Empty Suit.

The Brain-Dead Idiocy of George Allen's 47% (Supposed) "Gotcha"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Washington Post is out with an editorial ridiculing George Allen for his supposed "gotcha" against Tim Kaine regarding the "47 percent" in last Thursday's televised U.S. Senate debate. According to the post, this is at worst a"nano-gaffe," a "supposed blunder," but actually far more telling - and NOT in a good way! - about George Allen and the Republicans.First, there's the outrageous, galling Republican hypocrisy on this one (I know, I know...what ELSE is new?!?). As the Post points out, when Michele Bachmann was running for president her "embrace of a minimum federal income tax passed with little response from Republicans."
Second, of course, there's the utter internal illogic of Republicans on this one. Thus, we had the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, disparaging the 47% who don't pay federal income taxes as "dependent on government," people who see themselves as "victims," people who feel "entitled" to a variety of government benefits, blah blah blah. By that "logic," of course, Romney's clearly arguing that the 47% SHOULD pay federal income taxes, just as crazy Michele Bachmann was arguing. But then, the mere hint of willingness to even consider such an idea by a Democrat sends George Allen - who, by the way, refused to condemn Romney's arrogant, outrageous, clueless comments about the 47% - into a paroxysm of outrage (OUTRAGE I tell you!). I guess, as usual, it's always OK if you're a Republican, but never ok if you're a Democrat, at least with characters like George Allen.
Third, of course, is the fact that Tim Kaine has never advocated slapping an income tax on the 47% who currently don't pay income taxes. What happened was that, in a debate, moderator David Gregory asked a trying-to-be-clever question, and Kaine answered it in a non-politician way (a good thing in a human being, a bad thing in a politician perhaps), saying he wouldn't a priori rule it out, but that he had his own plan to avoid sequestration and deal with the long-term debt problem, while Allen clearly does not. Basically, this was an extremely minor part of the debate (which Kaine won overwhelmingly on substance and style), one hypothetical, musing response to a hypothetical, musing question in an hour. Who cares, right? Except, for whatever reason, the corporate media tried to make this into a "story," since they clearly must make everything into a story, even where none exists. That's more a commentary on the idiocy of the media than anything else.
Fourth, and really the point of this diary, is this: it turns out most other advanced, industrialized countries, including all those supposedly "socialist," aka "progressive" countries in Europe, plus Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and many others, require ALL (or the vast majority of) their citizens to pay at least some income tax. Of course, these countries also have highly progressive tax systems, in which the lowest income people pay relatively low rates, while the highest income people pay much higher rates. For instance, in Canada, people pay 15% of federal income tax on the first $42,707 of taxable income,  while people making more than $132,406 pay at a 29% rate. In England, everyone pays at least SOME income tax, again in a steeply progressive tax system. And it's basically the same deal in JapanFranceGermany, and Italy. So, for those on the left who have criticized Kaine for his comments in the debate, I'd point out that the most progressive countries in the world overwhelmingly levy income tax on all their citizens, albeit in a steeply progressive system that comes with tremendous benefits as well.
Bottom line: this was, and will continue to be, a nonsensical, inane non-issue in terms of a "gotcha" of Tim Kaine, let alone by someone as fundamentally, laughably un-serious as George Allen. Having said that, the question of whether everyone in the country should pay at least some income tax could be a real issue if we were ever to have a serious debate on tax policy in this country. But that's certainly not what happened in the Kaine-Allen debate the other day, and it certainly never will happen as long as someone of Allen's low intellectual level is the Republican candidate. I mean, does Allen even know or careabout any of the facts listed above? Maybe if we expressed those facts in terms of a brain-dead football metaphor, but even then...doubtful. Next topic!

Wanna Go Shootin' with Ken Cuccinelli, "various assault weapons...with silencers?"

Friday, September 21, 2012

Does this sound like a fun time to you? If so, you can join Ken Cuccinelli - who, incredibly (and horrifyingly) wants to be governor of Virginia - and a bunch of other like-minded folks on October 13. Wait, you don't think this sounds like a fun time? Well, then, you apparently are in 100% agreement with State Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun), who is running for Virginia Attorney General next year. Here's what Sen. Herring thinks of this event, and Ken Cuccinelli's enthusiastic participation in it:
When he's not busy bullying the Board of Health into making health decisions for women, Ken Cuccinelli is helping raising cash with his allies by firing submachine guns with anyone who is willing to pay $2,500. This is what our Attorney General is focused on and this is why we need a change in the office.
Yes, we most certainly do need a change in the Attorney General's office. As the Washington Post wrote in an editorial this morning (Ken Cuccinelli bullies a state board into surrender), in just three years, Cuccinelli "has demeaned his office by using it as a blatantly partisan bully pulpit to attack Obamacare, illegal immigrants, homosexuals and climate-change scientists." He's also "ignore[d] the example of former Virginia attorneys general of both parties who resigned to run rather than politicize the office." Of course, as the Post pointed out, "In the Cuccinelli worldview, rendering dispassionate legal advice takes a back seat to agenda-pushing." Next year, Virginians will have a chance to change all that, to return the Attorney General's office to the professional, (mostly, at least) apolitical office it's supposed to be, one that fights for Virginians' safety, health, environment, civil rights, and well-being in general. In other words, everything that Ken Cuccinelli hasn't done the past 3 years.P.S. For the rest of the invitation, including more details on this fun (?) event, see the "flip."
lowkell :: Wanna Go Shootin' with Ken Cuccinelli, "various assault weapons...with silencers?"

Video: President Obama Sees "Hard-Working Virginians," Not Romney's Moochers, in Woodbridge

What would Romney tell these people, that they're corporations? That they need to stop receiving Medicare and Social Security, or they're a bunch of bums? Thank goodness President Obama is the one in the White House, not Willard "Mitt" Romney. Over the next 45 days, let's work hard to make sure he STAYS in the White House for another four years!
I don't believe we can get very far with leaders who write off half the nation as a bunch of victims who think that they're not interested in taking responsibility for their own lives. I don't see a lot of victims in this crowd today. I see hard-working Virginians. Some of you may be students, trying to work your way through college. Some of you may be single moms like my mom, working overtime to see if you can provide a better life for your kids. Some of you might be senior citizens who have been saving your whole life for your retirement. Some of you may be veterans who served this country bravely, soldiers who defend our freedom today. Nobody believes that anyone's entitled to success in this country. We don't believe government should help people who refuse to help themselves. But we do believe in something called opportunity. We believe in a country where hard work pays off. Where responsibility is rewarded. Where everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody plays by the same rules. That's the country we believe in, that's what I believe in, that's why I'm running for a second term as president.

The Utter Idiocy, Mendacity, Hypocrisy of Romney's "Redistribution" Attack

Thursday, September 20, 2012

If you haven't seen it yet, the Romney camp's latest attack on President Obama really takes the cake (I'm thinking about cake, by the way, because I just baked one last night, and it was awesome! LOL). In all seriousness, though, the Romney campaign is really full of horse manure onthis one ("Obama's Policies Have Echoed His Support For The Redistribution Of Wealth"), attacking Obama in a way that's utterly nonsensical (the fact is, "everyone in American politics supports some form of income redistribution"; also factual is that "Obama Praised 'Competition' And 'Innovation' In 1998 Remarks") - not that THAT ever stopped Republicans.Of course, as Blog for Arizona explains, "Romneyhood" is really "Robinhood in Reverse... steal from America's middle-class to enrich his plutocratic rich friends."
Brookings Institution/Tax Policy Center study found that Romney's plan to overhaul the tax code would produce cuts for the richest 5% of Americans -- and larger tax bills for everyone else. Romney's spending plans would substantially weaken the social safety net for you Lucky Duckies in the 47% of Americans who do not owe federal income taxes, and those of you who rely on that social safety net just to survive...and he wants to talk about redistribution of wealth? Bring it on! This is the very definition of class warfare, and it is being waged by conservative plutocrats like Mittens Romney and his GOPropaganda machine against everyone else.
Meanwhile, it's not as if the Obama Campaign has been quiet about believing that those making the highest level of income in this country should pay a little more in taxes to help ensure that everyone has a fair shot at the American Dream, to strengthen the Middle Class, etc. In fact, not only are they not hiding this, they've been running millions of dollars in ads based on this very idea, one that's supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans. The Obama campaign also has been promoting the Buffett Rule, which "would require everyone to pay their fair share-a key step to reduce the deficit and invest in what we need to grow and strengthen the economy."The thing that's most infuriating about the Republicans' "attack" over Obama's utterly non-controversial, 18-year-old remarks, is that once again, they took Obama's remarks embarrassingly out of context (see Rachel Maddow's explanation, as well as the video clip above). The fact is, this is yet ANOTHER blatant example of how Republicans selectively edit video to make a point, even if it's wildly inaccurate/mendacious/etc. (e.g., the pathological-level-lying "you didn't build that" attacks). The bottom line here is obvious: Republicans see the polls, and they know they are standing on quicksand over Romney's outrageous remarks about half the country. This pathetic attempt at a counterattack just shows how terrified they are that they're about to lose the election, not just at the presidential level, but also in the U.S. Senate and even possibly the House of Representatives as well. And guess what: it couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of (lying, hypocritical, brain-dead, desperate) folks.
P.S. Just to emphasize: Republicans overwhelmingly favor redistribution - from the poor and middle class to the rich, from Main Street to Wall Street, from young people to older people, from the U.S. to China and the Cayman Islands, from taxpayers to their favored cronies and industries (e.g., Big Oil), etc.

Photos: Symbolic Lynching of "Nobama" at Bull Run Park This Weekend

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I debated whether to even post this garbage, as I find it utterly revolting/sickening/disturbing/etc. So, my thinking at first was, why give it any publicity at all? On the other hand, this is something that really happened, just this past weekend, not far away (in Centreville, Virginia), and apparently it hasn't been reported on anywhere else. So, it seems that either I post the photos or they will likely never get out there for people to see. Anyway, here they are (one on the front, one on the "flip").A bit of background: these cell phone photos were taken by someone as they left the KORUS festival at Bull Run Park (why does this seem so appropriate?!?) this past Sunday. The photos were then forwarded to me, the lucky (???) blogger. As you can see, what the photos depict is a chair - apparently a reference to the bizarre, rambling Clint Eastwood "dialogue" with "President Obama" in an empty chair at the Republican Convention a few weeks ago - strung up in a tree by a rope. The chair features, ever-so-creatively, a sign that says "Nobama." Get it? No Obama="Nobama." Hahaha.
In short, this appears to be a crude metaphor for the lynching of President Obama. Obviously, it's beyond grotesque (it also boggles my mind that this was allowed to be put up, let alone to stay up, at a festival presumably visited by thousands of people - wtf?). Also, I'm not sure if there's any real connection here, but the chair is right next to a very large "Allen for U.S. Senate" sign that you can't miss. Let me just emphasize: I wasn't there, don't know how long the Allen sign was sitting there, who put it there, whether or not they saw the metaphoric lynching tableaux, etc. So I definitely don't think we should leap to any conclusions here (even knowing about Allen's extensive history of racist behavior - the noose in his office, the severed deer head in a black man's mailbox, the apparently habitual use of the "n word", the infamous photo with the racist Council of Conservative Citizens, the "macaca" incident, etc., etc.)
Anyway, I asked my friend Eric Bylerco-founder of the Coffee Party and director of superb film "9500 Liberty", who did such great work in the northern Viginia Korean-American community (along with his Korean-American partner Annabel Park) in 2006, what he thought of this. As always, Eric had some fascinating thoughts, which he told me to feel free to share. So, check out the "flip" for excerpts from our conversation, with bolding added by me for emphasis.

...the Republican platform is a parasitic relationship between economic elites and social conservatives. Economic elites don't want to enter the 21st century because the 20th century was so lucrative for them. They prefer the old ways. Social conservatives don't want to enter the 21st century because the 20th century affording them white racial prestige, patriarchy, etc. They both prefer the previous century.But our job as Americans is not to play into the divisions that the ruling class scripts for us. The calamitous policies that have been enabled by this parasitic relationship (mistakenly seen as a symbiotic one) are hurting American families and hurting America's future competitiveness. These policies are hurting conservative families too...People who are insecure about their future can be bolstered with hope, or scapegoats. It's not just the political parties that vie to influence which that is. We the People also have a responsiblity.
We know that the profiteering class would prefer that we all scapegoat each other. That's why they pay for media products designed to incite conflict over racial, cultural, religious, gender, and sexual orientation issues...
...Remember when we thought Macaca was so horribly racist? Compare that to the things thought leaders on the right are saying now...Our culture has shifted in the wrong direction since 2008 because the profiteering class decided that their only hope was to destroy the people's love of democracy. For that, they needed the most hateful people in the nation to take center stage (the Tea Party). That's why they spent so much money producing Tea Party content for their "news" channel...
I think these extreme measures show that they are worried. They see the writing on the wall. Demographic shift and social media undermine the advantage for those who can afford to purchase media propaganda. Look at what the profiteering class is facing right now.If Obama is allowed to turn this country around, the majority of voters alive in 2016 will remember that the last four administrations like this: Bush - yuck; Clinton - yay!; Bush 2 - huge yuck; Obama - yay! How are they going to get back into the White House, ever?
They couldn't afford to allow Obama to succeed. They knew, of course, that doubling down on the Southern Strategy would exacerbate the demographic issues they are facing...That's why they took these two drastic measures: (1) Citizens United/SuperPAC madness and (2) 3 years of Tea Party reality TV (both very expensive, but both worth it, considering the alternative if America succeeds under Obama).

Climate Scientists Just Want to Steal David Koch's PRECIOUSSS

by: TheGreenMiles

Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 16:28:09 PM EDT

PhotobucketQuick reaction to Mitt Romney's now-infamous remarks that the 47 percent of Americans too old, sick or poor to pay income taxes are lazy mooches who want the government to steal more money from rich people so they can get more free goodies.The war on climate scientists funded by billionaires like the Koch brothersRichard Mellon Scaife and Philip Anschutzmakes much more sense when you look at it through this prism. If you already look out the window and see literally half of your fellow Americans as thieves trying to steal from you, well OF COURSE climate scientists are greedy cheaters manipulating the data to back their phony lying hoax so they can get their grubby little stealing hands on more research grants.
It's a cynical, destructive way to view the world (and life), but I understand it. What I don't understand is why anyone would take them and the organizations they fund seriously as a source for climate science, as the PBS NewsHour apparently did last night.

Media Flunkie of the Week: NBC's Chuck Todd

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 20:53:16 PM EDT

For a perfect example of the duplicity of the bend-over-backwards media, much of which will still not call out Mitt Romney for his abusive statements about ordinary Americans, take a look at Chuck Todd's exercise in false equivalence, or just click the video above.  Disgusting.  Far be it from him to "take sides" (though he piles on to the president at will).  He gives new meaning to the word apologist.  The man makes bending over an art form.  Chuck Todd is the biggest overachiever in media today. His analyses typically are a matter of reading and interpreting the polls, as if anyone else cannot read  But somehow, for reasons difficult to compute, he rose to a position of influence on national TV.
Mitt's rant masked more than one important fact, not the least of them was this: Many of those paying no taxes were actually people like him who weren't paying their fair share.  Of all those paying no taxes, they are the only sycophants.  And Mitt is no better. Having avoided his fair share in taxes by off-shoring his profits, Romney has a lot of nerve bad mouthing hardworking Americans whose wages have been ratcheted down by vultures like Mitt Romney. Many of those not paying taxes pay none because they don't make enough!  Remember it was Anne Romney who said if they released their tax returns it would give others ammunition to use against him. Ya think?
Does Todd take apart the statements and correct them?  No. Does he go after Romney's hypocrisy and duplicity? No. In the face of the outrageous statements of Mitt Romney, while expressing opinions many a time (in Todd's case it's nearly always his opinion), yesterday, neither Chuck Todd nor Brian Williams would actually deal with the underlying facts of Romney's distorted and nasty statement. A "fact check" came today, but Chuck Todd didn't do it.
But yesterday, Todd pretends they all do it.  No they don't, Chuck. I name you the media flunkie of the week. PS I pay income taxes and I am offended by Romney's statement about Americans who do not make enough to pay income tax.  He has no business giving them grief.

There's No Question About It: We Are WAYYY Better Off Than We Were 4 Years Ago

Monday, September 17, 2012

The question is mostly silly political rhetoric, of course, but you hear it asked (by Willard "Mitt" Romney, Paul Ryan, etc.) nonetheless: "Are we better off than we were 4 years ago?" (Note: actually, the question should be whether we're better off since President Obama's policies started kicking in, maybe mid-to-late 2009 to be fair, in which case everything below would only look BETTER than it does). You'll also hear Republicans claiming that we're worse off than we were 4 years ago, which only goes to show that they either: a) have absolutely no ability to remember anything; b) have no ability to use "Google"; and/or c) are just lying through their teeth. See below for a short list of all the ways we're better off, including many categories in which we are WAYYY better off, than we were 4 years ago.U.S. Crude Oil Production: Up 1.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) from June 2008 (5.1 million bbl/d) to 6.3 million bbl/d in June 2012. BETTER OFF
Net Oil Imports: About 7.9 million bbl/d in in August 2012, SHARPLY down from around 11.6 million bbl/d in August 2008. WAYYY BETTER OFF
Natural Gas Production: Up sharply, to around 2 trillion cubic feet per month in June 2012, compared to about 1.7 trillion cubic feet per month in June 2008. BETTER OFF
Natural Gas Wellhead Price: Just $2.54 per thousand cubic feet in June 2012, compared to $10.36 per thousand cubic feet in June 2008. WAYYY BETTER OFF
Wind and Solar Power Production: Huge increases -- more than double - since 2008 for both wind and solar. And growing fast! WAYYY BETTER OFF
Gasoline Prices: About $3.75 per gallon in September 2008 (as the economy was in the midst of collapsing); today about $3.90 per gallon (as the economy recovers). WASH
Private Sector Jobs: Losing private sector jobs at more than 400,000 per month in the fall of 2008, accelerating to losses of more than 800,000 jobs per month in January 2009 (Bush's last month in office). Today, we've been gaining private sector jobs since April 2010. WAYYY BETTER OFF
Stock Market:  2008 was "the third worst since the Dow was inaugurated in 1896," with the Dow down 33.8% (en route to a low of about 6,500). Today, themarkets are at their highest levels since 2007, having bounced all the way back to pre-collapse levels. WAYYY BETTER OFF
Economic Growth: In September 2008, we were in the midst of the Great Recession, with GDP plummeting at a nearly 4% annual rate (and even worse in the fourth quarter of 2008 - THAT is what President Obama inherited!). Today, we're in a recovery, albeit not fast enough (thanks Republicans for obstructing many measures that could have helped matters!), with GDP growth for 12 straight quarters. WAYYY BETTER OFF
lowkell :: There's No Question About It: We Are WAYYY Better Off Than We Were 4 Years Ago
Economic Confidence Index: According to Gallup, the U.S. economic confidence index was plummeting in September 2008, at about MINUS 50 and falling fast. Today, we're up sharply, at minus 18, close to the highest level in nearly 5 years. WAYYY BETTER OFF
Job Creation Index: At this time 4 years ago, the job creation index was plummeting, hitting MINUS 10 about the time Dubya slithered out of office. Today? We are at POSITIVE 20 and rising, the highest level since before the financial sector melted down in September 2008. WAYYY BETTER OFF
U.S. Housing Market: Housing prices "started to decline in 2006 and 2007," with "the Case-Shiller home price index report[ing] its largest price drop in its history" on December 30, 2008. Today, the U.S. housing market has stabilized and is slowly recovering from the burst "bubble." WAYYY BETTER OFF
World Financial Sector: In September 2008, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy (9/15), AIG was plummeting towards insolvency (9/16), and the Bush Administration was scrambling to pass a $700 billion emergency bailout through the purchase of toxic assets (Ben Bernanke said at the time: "f we don't do this, we may not have an economy on Monday"). Today, the financial system isn't perfect by any means, but it's stable, profitable, and to some extent reformed. WAYYY BETTER OFF
Health Care: In July 2008, your kids couldn't stay on your policy through the age of 26, the donut hole was wide open, pre-existing condition exclusions were alive and well, we still had to pay for many preventive services that are now free, and we were most definitely NOT on our way to providing all Americans with health care coverage. Today, that's all changed/changing for the better. WAYYY BETTER OFF
Auto industry: In deep trouble in the summer of 2008, on the way towards disastrous bankruptcy (which Mitt Romney advocated, by the way). Today, the U.S. auto industry is thriving, profitable, creating jobs, etc. WAYYY BETTER OFF
Osama bin Laden/Al Qaeda: Bin Laden and other key Al Qaeda leaders who were alive in July 2008 are no longer with us today. Today, as a result of relentless U.S. military and other actions against it under President Obama, Al Qaeda has been decimated. WAYYY BETTER OFF
Iraq War: The war was ongoing, U.S. troops were still there, in July 2008. Today, the war's over and we're outta there. WAYYY BETTER OFF
Anti-LGBT Discrimination: Don't Ask Don't Tell was alive and well in July 2008. Same-sex partners of federal employees did NOT receive key benefits that other employees got. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act had NOT been signed into law. Etc., etc. Today, LGBT Americans are far better off than they were under Bush, Cheney et al., and an article in today's Washington Post indicates that "repeal has gone smoothly, with no adverse effect on morale, recruitment or readiness." WAYYY BETTER OFF
Feel free to add your "better off" items in the comments section below. Honestly, it's hard to think of any areas where we're worse off than we were 4 years ago, and in many of those cases, it's the result of Republican obstructionism and desire for President Obama to "fail."
P.S. If you are a Republican obsessed with the percent of your income going to the government, guess what? That's right, it turns out that taxes today are sharply lower than they were in Bush's last 2 years in office. Must be that "socialist" in the White House, huh? Hmmmmm. :)

Covert Audios from Romney Fundraiser Give a Glimpse of the Real Willard, and It's Not Pretty

Listen to Romney as he speaks candidly to super-rich, right-wingnut donors (all the while assuming it's off the record, when in fact it's being secretly audiotaped), about a variety of subjects, revealing himself to be as bad, or worse, than we ever thought. A few adjectives about Romney spring to mind from listening to these audios (more on the "flip"): callous, crazy, bigoted, ruthless, calculating/conniving, clueless, corporate tool, etc. What do you think? P.S. I just added more audios courtesy of David Corn at Mother Jones. Romney's really a piece of work...

Close Ally of Bob McDonnell, Robert Hurt Caught in Radioactive Scandal

First, let me just give huge props to Peter Galuszka of Bacon's Rebellion, who continues to be one of the best writers, reporters, and bloggers on Virginia politics. Galuszka's been doing great work for years, but he's really outdone himself the past few days, breaking an important story involving State Senator Bill Stanley (R- a large chunk of Southside Virginia), Stanley's "close political ally" Bob McDonnell (T-Bob "helped raise $83,000 for a recent Stanley political campaign"), Virginia Uranium, and god knows who or what else. Here's the gist of what happened, per Peter Galuszka: *"Jerry A. Hagerman, a supervisor in Pittsylvania County which is at the center of a battle over proposed uranium mining, says that State Sen. Bill Stanley..told him that Gov. Robert F. McDonnell asked Stanley to lobby the county Board of Supervisors to shelve a resolution regarding uranium at its Sept. 4 meeting. Hagerman says he has a taped telephone call from Stanley to prove it." *"Virginia Uranium plans to develop a 119 million-pound deposit of uranium near Chatham. The controversial proposal has attracted national media attention." *This whole incident "raises questions about the integrity of Stanley, who is one of the state Republican party’s fastest-rising young stars. It tends to implicate the McDonnell Administration in influence peddling. It shows how the democratic process can be throttled in intrigues involving a proposal to mine a 119 million pound uranium deposit near Chatham that could make billions for its owners." *"Stanley has close ties to McDonnell," "in [sync] with McDonnell on just about every issue." *Stanley is now furiously backpedaling, claiming (lamely) that "he 'misspoke' when he brought up the name of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell during his Aug. 31 telephone call..." Yeah, right. *Finally, I'd add that Stanley also has close ties to Rep. Robert Hurt (as you can see from the above video, Stanley and Hurt considered each other to be long-time friends), who is highly "radioactive" himself on this one, given his own "shocking conflict of interest" on the uranium mining issue. In sum, a close political ally of Gov. McDonnell and Rep. Hurt was caught, on tape, in a radioactive (figuratively and maybe literally as well) scandal over uranium mining in Southside, Virginia. The question is, what did McDonnell and Hurt know about this, and when did they know it? And no, it's simply not plausible that the either the Governor, or the U.S. Representative from the 5th CD, a longtime friend of Sen. Stanley's (who succeeded Hurt in office), knew nothing about any of this. P.S. Again, great work by Peter Galuszka. It's too bad the "mainstream media" can't and/or won't do its job, but apparently it's gotten to the point where it takes citizen journalists to do what the PAID ones are supposed to be doing. Let's see if they have any pride, or shame, and follow up vigorously on this story. Personally, I'm not holding my breath, but I hope to be pleasantly surprised!

On Foreign Policy, Obama=JFK, Romney=LBJ?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I've been reading The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power - Robert A. Caro's critically acclaimed biography of LBJ during the time he served as Vice President, and then succeeded to the Presidency after JFK's assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963. I just finished the section on the Cuban Missile Crisis (see excerpt below, bolding added by me for emphasis), including the crucial executive committee (ExComm) meetings on how to handle the situation and avert a possible nuclear Armageddon.During those meetings, LBJ had not said much of anything, but when he DID speak up, it was almost invariably to denigrate the "weakness" they were showing, and to side with the super-hawks that we needed to bomb/invade Cuba ASAP, and to lob comments like "All I know is that when I was a boy in Texas, and you were walking along the road when a rattlesnake reared up ready to strike, the only thing to do was to take a stick and chop its head off."  Very helpful, huh? Not.
Of course, LBJ was completely wrong about that - another option would be to get away from the rattlesnake, or in this case - dealing with human beings, NOT rattlesnakes - to figure out a way to defuse the crisis without either side "striking," potentially destroying mankind in the process.
It had been no oversight that Lyndon Johnson wasn't invited to that crucial conference in the Oval Office on Saturday evening.On Sunday, after the final ExComm meeting, Jack Kennedy said to his brother that this was the night he should go to the theater, like Lincoln after the Union victory in the Civil War, and Robert - the subject of assassination having been raised, and with it, of course, the reminder that the Vice President would thereupon become President - said that "if he was going to the theater, I would go too, having witnessed the inability of Johnson to make any contribution during all the conversations" In later years, he would recall Johnson's displeasure "with what we were doing," the way, in Bobby's words, that "he would circulate and whine and complain about our being weak," while never making "any suggestions or recommendations" himself. The people who "had participated in all these discussions," Robert Kennedy was to say, "were bright and energetic people. We had perhaps amongst the most able in the country, and if any one of half a dozen of them were President the world would have been very likely plunged in a catastrophic war." Lyndon Johnson, he would make clear, was one of that half dozen. Jack Kennedy, as always, was more oblique, but, through the means of another, shorter list, he also made his feelings clear. Recalls his friend, the journalist Bartlett, "He said after the Cuban Missile Crisis that there were three men on the Executive Committee that he would be glad to see become President of the United States: McNamara, Dillon, and his brother Bobby. He said that a couple of times." Three men whom John F. Kennedy would be happy to have succeed him as President. The Vice President wasn't one of them.
"You must know as well or better than I President Kennedy's steadily diminishing opinion of him," Jacqueline Kennedy would, years after the assassination, write in a private letter to Ted Sorenson. "As his term progressed, he grew more and more concerned about what would happen if LBJ ever become President. He was truly frightened at the prospect."
Sad to say, LBJ proved JFK exactly correct in the end, showing that his extremely poor judgment during the Cuban Missile Crisis was no fluke during his own presidency, with regard to Vietnam. Thus, LBJ kept escalating in Vietnam, refused to take opportunities to potentially disengage, always extremely concerned about "losing face," and/or being known as the President who lost Southeast Asia to the Communists.More on the "flip"

The results: a disastrous war, one that resulted in the loss of Vietnam (and Laos and Cambodia) anyway, hundreds of thousands of American casualties, over 1 million Vietnamese deaths, ultimately the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the genocide there, and of course the tragedy/failure of LBJ's second term.
Anyway, as I read all this, the parallels to today, and to the Obama-Romney race specifically, kept popping into my mind. Over the past few days,  as we all know, a crisis has flared up in the Muslim world, one that's resulted in our embassies under siege, and several American lives - including our ambassador in Libya - being tragically murdered by armed thugs. President Obama's reaction, through all this, has been (like JFK would have been) cool, steady, restrained, mature, deliberate, rational, well-considered, thoughtful, and taking into account all the facts before jumping to any conclusions.
In stark contrast, Mitt Romney the past few days has been hot headed, erratic, belligerent, wildly hawkish, ignorant, inappropriate, off message, counterproductive, and just plain stupid. Basically, Romney has exhibited all the negative traits we saw during his fiasco of a foreign trip over the summer, but this time during a real crisis, not just insulting our allies and making stupid comments everywhere he went.
In the end, there's only so much the United States can do about this situation - or many foreign policy situations, for that matter - and it takes a wise, mature President to understand that. Based on the behavior he's exhibited during this campaign, or certainly during the past few days as he's completely disgraced himself, Mitt Romney's certainly not wise or mature when it comes to foreign policy. Fortunately, he's not in the White House; Barack Obama is, and one thing seems sure to me -- President Obama, like JFK almost exactly 50 years ago, always works hard to ensure that our country emerges from whatever situation we find ourselves in with the best possible - or, at the minimum, "least bad" - outcome, given the circumstances.
What about Mitt Romney, if god forbid he were to become president? Like LBJ, I strongly suspect that he'd side with the superhawks (his neocon/superhawk foreign policy advisers are pretty much the same folks who were such a disaster during the Bush 43 administration), advocate for something hotheaded, and get the United States into a whole lot more trouble than we already are facing. Same thing with other crises or trouble spots, whether we're talking about Syria, China, whatever. As Romney's demonstrated the past few days, when it comes to foreign policy this guy's judgement simply isn't up to snuff, just like LBJ (in LBJ's case, at least he was a genius in handling the Senate, and domestic policy more broadly, even as he was a disaster when it came to foreign policy).
In the case of Romney, he'd almost certainly be a disaster on foreign policy, just as LBJ was. But unlike with LBJ, there would be ZERO redeeming qualities on domestic policy in a Romney presidency; most likely, that would be a disaster as well. Which raises the obvious question: Why would anyone, other than one of Romney's crazy neoconservative puppetmasters, perhaps, vote for someone like that? Got me.

Social Media Usage by Virginia Congressional Challengers Not Impressive

As Netroots Rising discusses, it's been about a decade now since political blogging really started getting big. As for Facebook, that really got going after 2006, when it opened up beyond college students. YouTube actually had its first, big political breakthrough hit in August 2006, with the infamous "macaca" video. And Twitter started taking off in 2008, although I'd argue that it's really in the past couple years that Twitter's gone truly big-time in terms of the political world.Regardless of when they got going and "took off," all of these social media tools are now highly popular, with tens if not hundreds of millions of users. They are also highly utilized by major political campaigns. For instance, Barack Obama has nearly 20 million Twitter followers (Romney has 1.1 million); 28 million Facebook "likes" (Romney has 6.9 million), and224,712 YouTube subscribers (Romney has 18,497.
Closer to home, Tim Kaine has 15,266 Twitter followers (Allen has 5,806), 25,462 Facebook "likes" (Allen has 54,244), and 116 YouTube subscribers (That's not very much, although Allen only has 100 YouTube subscribers, so neither is exactly a viral video sensation!).
What about Virginia's Congressional candidates? This one's a bit hard to evaluate, as incumbents often have been around a long time and have followings for their official Congressional accounts, not so much for their political campaigns. Thus, to some extent, we're comparing apples to oranges on this one. So let's mostly focus on challengers and see how they're doing. A few key findings jumped out at me.
First, among Democratic challengers, social media followings are generally low all around, with the exception of 7th CD candidate Wayne Powell (2,499 Twitter followers; 13,397 Facebook "likes"). Other than that, YouTube views on their channels are minimal to nonexistent (although it's worth noting that Andy Schmookler had a hit that wasn't on his own channel). As for Twitter, other than Wayne Powell, the other Democratic challengers range from just 46 followers for 10th CD candidate Kristin Cabral (and she's only tweeted twice - total) to 67 followers for Ella Ward, 173 followers for Andy Schmookler, 183 followers forJohn Douglass, 191 followers for Paul  Hirschbiel, 200 followers for Anthony Flaccavento, and 350 followers for Adam Cook. In short, Democratic challengers - other than Powell - have minimal Twitter presences, either in terms of followers or number of tweets (exceptions on the latter metric: Powell has tweeted 972 times and Schmookler 532 times).
lowkell :: Social Media Usage by Virginia Congressional Challengers Not Impressive
In contrast to Democratic challengers, their Republican opponents have much larger Twitter followings, ranging as high as 81,267 for Eric Cantor; 9,200 for Rob Wittman; 8,283 for Randy Forbes; 5,543 for Scott Rigell; 5,477 for Bob Goodlatte; 1,708 for Frank Wolf; and 1,251 for Robert Hurt. So, to the extent this matters - and that's a big question, does any of this matter, and if so, to what extent? - Democratic challengers are getting their clocks cleaned by their Republican opponents, on Twitter at least.As for Facebook, a similar pattern exists, with minimal followings for Democratic challengers, with the exceptions of Wayne Powell (13,397 "likes") and Andy Schmookler (1,742 "likes"). Other than that, they're all under 1,000 Facebook "likes," with three candidates - Cabral, Cook and Ward - under 400, and two candidates - Douglass and Hirschbiel - under 800. In all cases, Republican incumbents are ahead, usually WAYYYY ahead, of their Democratic challengers on Facebook, with one exception: Frank Wolf has only 436 Facebook followers. Again, the question is, does any of this matter? To the extent that it does, Democratic challengers aren't looking good.
Finally, YouTube's been almost a complete non factor for Virginia Congressional challengers this year. It's certainly not that people aren't watching YouTube for politics - e.g., Bill Clinton's DNC speech has millions of views - but they're certainly not tuning in for Virginia Congressional candidates, at least not the challengers. Why is that? I'm not sure exactly, but perhaps people don't see these races as competitive, ergo interesting, and thus aren't tuning in?
One last observation: I've seen a few Virginia Democratic congressional challengers - Powell, Schmookler, Douglass - relatively active on the progressive blogs (mostly Blue Virginia and Daily Kos). The others, though, have been mostly invisible (note: Flaccavento and Cook both did interviews with Blue Virginia; I haven't seen much, if anything, on the blogs from Cabral, Hirschbiel and Ward).
Bottom line: I'm not sure if there are any profound conclusions to draw here, other than that Virginia Democratic Congressional challengers - with the possible exception of Wayne Powell - have not been putting a lot of resources into building their social media presences this cycle, and/or haven't been getting a great deal of return on whatever investments they HAVE put in. I don't know about you, but this seems a bit odd to me, given the tremendous investment that Obama, Romney, Kaine and Allen have put into social media, given that this stuff isn't exactly new anymore, and given how many people use social media these days. Maybe the thinking is that social media isn't worth the investment at the congressional level, or maybe these candidates simply don't understand how to use it, or both?  If so, it seems to me that these assumptions are (highly) erroneous, especially given that the alternative - paid advertising, mostly - is extremely expensive, whereas social media mostly just takes time and effort. Any thoughts?
P.S. I should mention that Republican 11th CD challenger Chris Perkins is essentially nonexistent on Facebook and Twitter, while 8th CD Republican Patrick Murray is relatively active (although of course he's going to get crushed, for good reason, by Rep. Jim Moran).

Republicans Compensating for their Sandusky Connection

Friday, September 14, 2012

by: Dan Sullivan

Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 09:07:03 AM EDT

Virginia Delegate Rob Bell (R-58th) hails a set of laws directed at sex crimes against children he walked through the Virginia Legislature at the height of the Sandusky scandal. If they were so essential, why did it take Governor McDonnell months to "sign" them?In fact, if they were anything more than gimmicks, if they solved any threat to public safety, why weren't they passed as emergency legislation? And why did their effective date pass without fanfare? Instead, last Friday, they provided a photo op for Bell's campaign for Attorney General.

Over the last two years in Virginia there have been 215 adults convicted of these vile crimes, and only 10 cases have resulted in life sentences. The median sentence overall was only 13 years. I believe the only sure way to keep other children safe is to keep these convicted sexual predators locked up for the balance of their lives. - Delegate Bell's AG campaign E-mail
And who was Attorney General over the past two years and in the years just preceding? Who was governor during those same two years? And when did either Cuccinelli or McDonnell ever mention mandated reporting for public and private college employees before the Sandusky scandal? Or condemn the Republican Pennsylvania Attorney General's foot dragging in the Sandusky case?
Dan Sullivan :: Republicans Compensating for their Sandusky Connection
Then again, who was Attorney General of Pennsylvania when the Sandusky case was slow-walked through the legal system? McDonnell Republiclone Governor Tom Corbett, that's who; shameless in his failure to act on the abuse at Pennsylvania State University.What difference do these new laws make at all? They may change the venue of confinement but little else. In effect they will make no difference in how long these contemptible souls are removed from society. It is all window dressing.

None of these new laws would have been possible without the focused leadership of Governor McDonnell, who has been an invaluable partner in addressing sex crimes since his time in the General Assembly. - Delegate Bell
So, where was the fight? Must have been resistance from Republicans in the legislature. It sure wasn't from Democrats. Let's understand this: Bell is claiming passage required skilled leadership and, by inference, backroom arm twisting and maneuvering by him and the Governor.
Poppycock. Truth is, Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett did more to move these bills through our legislature by his failure of character than our Governor or Bell ever did. Bell proposed four bills that never faced serious challenge because no legislator would dare swim against the tide of shock and revulsion in the moment. And that is all this was: a ploy to play on popular sentiment whose moment passed before Bell or McDonnell gained any traction from it at all.
It wasn't the lack of laws that abetted Sandusky's heinous crimes; it was the lack of character of everyone involved from the university locker room to the Republican Attorney General's office. Now we have Bell's pitiful little claim that he fought the good fight for Virginia. Easy to see whose shadow he is boxing.

BREAKING: VA Board of Health Approves Draconian Abortion Clinic Regs

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 13:38:30 PM EDT

This afternoon the Virginia Board of Health deliberating health regs for abortion  clinics rejected two attempts to grandfather existing clinics proposed by Jim Edmonson. They rejectd a process for waivers also promoted by him.And they pushed through a final vote in supported of the rigid regs, which lined up with the Kooch (the AG) and Transvaginal Bob (VA Gov.) 13-2.
Next, I'll offer some additional impressions, gatherred from several Twitter feeds and what I was able to hear through U-Stream.  Although advocates from both sides tried to attend, and some pro-choice supporters were in the hearing room, it appears the audience was largely anti-choice. The Board announced one time for opening the hearing room and another (earlier) one when it became available, catching the pro-choice people short.
Groups supporting choice, including the ACLU indicated that many, perhaps a hundred or more were kept from the hearing room and had to watch in another room.  Additionally, the Board strictly limited the statements by many health advocates and cut off the public comment period. And it appeared the fix was in. It makes you wonder. Where is the democracy?    

Video: Romney, Heckled for Politicizing Libya Tragedy, Skips Moment of Silence in Fairfax

Thursday, September 13, 2012

From CBS News: "During a campaign event in Fairfax, Va., on Friday, Mitt Romney scrapped a planned moment of silence for the passing of four U.S. diplomats after hecklers interrupted the event, accusing him of trying to 'politicize' the tragedy." Which is 100% correct, of course, as that's EXACTLY what Romney was doing, disgracefully, even as the tragedy was unfolding! What boggles my mind is that Romney has supporters, like the ones here chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A," who don't seem bothered by anything about this guy - the pathological lying, the economic plan that will totally screw them over, the frightening foreign policy incompetence, etc. What's the deal with that?!? UPDATE: It turns out that "only 2,700 people had shown up after 5,000 tickets had been distributed." Also of note: "That's a big drop from a rally Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sarah Palin held in the same park four years ago this week, which drew approximately 20,000 people." That's right, Willard-bot's less popular than Sen. "Get Off My LAWN!" and Crazy Sarah Palin. What a guy.

Conservative Virginia Activist, Blogger Bolts from Romney to Johnson, Explains Exactly Why

You know how a lot of us keep wondering where the sane conservatives, and/or the ones who simply find Willard Romney to be a pathetic excuse for a candidate, have been exactly? Well, here in Virginia, it looks like we've found one -  Chris Beer, aka "Mason Conservative," who describes himself as "born to be a Republican...the day Ronald Reagan was sworn into office...a proud Bush voter...[who] started this help push the conservative agenda in Virginia, and help the Republican Party grow for the 21st century." In short, the guy is about as diehard a conservative, and as diehard a Republican, as they come.Well, it now appears that "Mason Conservative" doesn't see Mitt Romney as the way to grow the Republican Party for the 21st century. He's absolutely correct about that, of course. But let's let Chris explain his own reasoning for why he's ditched Mitt and is instead supporting Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
*According to Chris, Romney "will be a complete disaster for conservatism as president, just as he is proving to be as a candidate." In addition, Chris writes, "I've never trusted him to begin with on every issue from spending to abortion. He wants to be president so badly, it unnerving."
*Chris says that although he remains a "strong supporter of AG Cuccinelli" who "look[s] forward to doing my little part in pushing the party toward the libertarian/constitutional conservative side...part of that is refusing to vote for terrible candidates who I don't believe in." That would be Romney, of course, one of the worst - if not THE worst - presidential candidates in the history of the Republican Party.
*What pushed Chris, who already had severe misgivings about Romney, totally over the edge, didn't actually come directly from Romney himself, but from RNC Chair Reince Preibus, who tweeted following the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, "Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic." According to Chris, "That was disgusting." Agreed.
Lots more on the "flip"
lowkell :: Conservative Virginia Activist, Blogger Bolts from Romney to Johnson, Explains Exactly Why
*In addition to his blog post, the comments section continues to flesh out Chris' thoughts:  this section in particular is worth quoting in full (bolding added by me for emphasis):
Essentially what Romney did was attack the president for a statement made by scared diplomats who were surrounded by furious Egyptians who had already broken through their outerwalls. Its easy to have muscles when your at home, but when you are surrounded by angry locals in a foriegn country with only a small group of marines protecting them you can better understand why they put a statement out like that. It is cowardly to attack those people, and by extension the President, for trying to do whatever they could to stop these people from taking the Embassy and doing harm to them. Its a frightening lack of judgement to attack surrounded diplomats in a hostile enviornment in a foriegn country and use it to beat up the President in the midst of a crisis.[...]
I don't know if you've actually LIVED overseas, not just visit, but I have. I was across the street from tanks firing on the Russian White House in 1993 spending three days underground on a gymnasium floor scared that something serious was going to happen. My family has been evacuated before while I was stuck here not knowing what was happening. For Romney to attack those diplomats who aren't sitting at home protected by our shores shows a fundamental lack of respect for diplomacy and a complete unpreparedness of understand how the world actually works.
I couldn't have said it better myself, that's for sure, as I've never been in the type of situation Chris personally experienced, back in 1993. On the other hand, I got my Master's Degree in Middle East Studies, and have traveled all over the world - including to some "hot spots." I also have friends and neighbors in the Foreign Service, including ones serving in dangerous places. Based on all that, I can definitively say that Chris is right, and Romney is wildly wrong - the LAST thing you want to do is what Romney did yesterday, and which he continues to "double down" on apparently. It really makes me wonder if the guy's got a few screws loose, or just isn't very smart, or what?
*Finally, Mason Conservative (Chris) believes that anyone who believes the Tea Party will "'live to fight another day' with Romney as president and in charge of every professional arm of the GOP [is] crazy." To the contrary, Chris argues, "the Tea Party would be stronger once the yoke of Romneyism is removed," while "the best thing for conservatism is for Romney to lose and allow true constitutional conservatives to finally take over the party." Fascinating.Anyway, I just want to say I admire Chris' courage in speaking out, because he surely is going to take some flack for this from his fellow conservatives. As a progressive blogger and activist myself (since 2003, when I joined the Draft Wesley Clark movement, and 2005 when I started "Raising Kaine"), I'm well aware of how difficult it can be to go against the majority of your own "team," such as when I supported Terry McAuliffe over Brian Moran in 2009 and took a TON of crap for that. But, in the end, we have to do what we believe is right, just as Chris is doing here. Good for him.

Pres. Obama Condemns Attack on Benghazi Consulate; Romney Faces Withering Criticism, Even from GOP

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

President Obama, with Secretary Clinton at his side, delivers a strong statement of condemnation to the rabble who attacked our country's embassy in Libya, as well as empathy towards the families of the American diplomats who were killed. Now THAT is how a Commander in Chief is supposed to act; thank goodness we have him at the helm of our nation, that's all I can say. As for the pathological liar, flip flopper, incompetent and all-around buffoon who's running against President Obama, he has succeeded in utterly disgracing himself (see, for instance, Romney campaign planned attack on Obama, but after 9/11, so it wouldn't be tasteless), demonstrating that he's completely out of his league (click here to read what even Republicans think of this guy!) when it comes to foreign policy, and beyond a shadow of a doubt proving that he is not only unqualified to be President of the United States, he's completely unfit to be President of the United States. (Note: If you can stand watching this slimeball, you can view Romney's statement on the "flip"). But don't take my word for it, let's see what others have to say. First Mark Halperin writes, "Unless the Romney campaign has gamed this crisis out in some manner completely invisible to the Gang of 500, his doubling down on criticism of the President for the statement coming out of Cairo is likely to be seen as one of the most craven and ill-advised tactical moves in this entire campaign." Next, Peggy Noonan says, "I don't feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors...sometimes when really bad things happen, when hot things happen, cool words or no words are the way to go." And NBC News' First Read writes, "Yesterday we noted that Mitt Romney, down in the polls after the convention, was throwing the kitchen sink at President Obama. Little did we know the kitchen sink would include -- on the anniversary of 9/11 -- one of the most over-the-top and (it turns out) incorrect attacks of the general-election campaign ." And, First Read asks incredulously, "Why didn’t the Romney campaign wait until it had all the facts?...You’d expect the Sarah Palins of the world to quickly pounce on something like this, and she predictably did. But a presidential nominee running for the highest office in the land?" That about sums it up, I'd say.

11 Years Since 9/11: My Trip to "Ground Zero"

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My wife and I traveled up to New York City for Labor Day weekend, and we made sure to visit the 9/11 Memorial. I hadn't been to the site of the World Trade Center since before 9/11, but I've been wanting to visit it - and pay my respects - for years now. Here are some photos of the site and its immediate surroundings as it looks now, with new buildings going up all around, and the powerful, emotionally evocative memorial at the center of it all, in the footprints of the Twin Towers.At one level, it's mind boggling that it's been 11 years since that traumatic day, 9/11/01. On another level, though, it feels like it happened yesterday. To think that in this place of gleaming new towers, hotels (we stayed right across the street, at the Club Quarters hotel), life, tourists, commerce, and just generally a bustling city, that one of the worst things that ever happened to America took place here 11 years's hard to process.
One thing I'll say, regarding the whole controversy over the Islamic cultural center, is that when you walk around this area, you quickly realize that there's all kinds of activity buzzing around within a few blocks of "Ground Zero," that it's certainly not cordoned off as some sort of cemetery or whatever. The concept that there can't be a peaceful cultural center for Muslims several blocks away from "Ground Zero" is absurd from a distance, even more so from up close. That's simply not what New York City is all about. It's also not what America's all about.
With that, here are the photos.
UPDATEGreat news (and about time!) - "New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says an agreement that paves the way for the completion of the Sept. 11 museum has been reached a day before the 11th anniversary of the terror attacks."
lowkell :: 11 Years Since 9/11: My Trip to "Ground Zero"

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Video: President Obama and the First Lady Observe a Moment of Silence on 9/11 (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Video: President Obama Speaks at a Pentagon Memorial Service in Remembrance of 9/11 (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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